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English 102: Argument and Research with Professor Williamson

"Argument and Research" focuses on analysis, sythesis and evaulation, logical thinking, the techniques of argument, writing about literature, and preparation of the documented essay.



Claim: a statement that the reader is being asked to accept.

This is the position the author is arguing for and the conclusion that they will ultimately reach.  This is what they want  to persuade their readers to believe as well. All of the other elements of the argument will be focused around this initial point. 




Grounds: the basis of the argument.

The grounds are the evidence that the author provides to support their claim.  They can include data and hard facts, proof of the author's expertise, or just the basic premises on which the claim is built.  It is important that the grounds be information which cannot be challenged, otherwise it can be seen as simply another claim, which would itself need to be based on a deeper level of evidence.    



Warrant: the reasoning that connects the grounds to the claim.

The warrant is the author's explanation of why the grounds are relevant to the claim.  The warrant can be explicit (clearly expressed) or implicit (only implied, not stated outright), however, an implicit warrant can leave the argument open to questioning by the reader.


Backing: additional support for the warrant.

Backing is essentially justification for the warrant.  If gives additional support by answering any questions that may be related to the warrant.  


Qualifier: an indication of relevancy

The qualifier indicates how close, or relevant, the relationship is between the grounds and the warrant.  Qualifiers can include words like "most," "sometimes," "usually," or "always" and are a good indication of the general strength of the argument.


Rebuttal: addressing counter-arguments.

The strongest arguments take opposing points of view, or counter-arguments, into account and discredit them.  Counter-arguments can be rebutted immediately, when the argument is first introduced, or throughout the argument.  A rebuttal is like a mini-argument, an can include several or all of the various elements.

EXAMPLE - The Toulmin Model

Diagram showing the inter-relationship between the six parts of the Toulmin Model. See transcribed text below the image.

Conclusion (CLAIM):  Rick will probably get seriously sunburnt.

FACT (Grounds):  Rick has fair skin, red hair, and freckles and he sunbathed all day yesterday.

WARRANT: People with fair skin, red hair, and freckles usually get sunburnt easily.

BACKING: Those people have little melanin in their skin. Melanin protects against sunburn.

QUALIFIER: Those people usually get sunburnt, but maybe not always.

REBUTTAL: Rick's parents both have fair skin, red hair, and freckles and they never seem to get sunburnt, no matter how much they sit outside.


Other Resources